From the lyrics to the beat, “Burn the House Down” by AJR will keep you bouncing along. I promise you this song is so fundamentally awesome, and the message is pretty fun. The song even hit 61 on the Billboard charts. The again the Billboard charts can be a real joke. Honestly, this song did super impressively well all things considered. But why? I wish I could sum it up in one sentence for those of you that don’t care about everything else, but this time it’s more complicated than that.
Like I said, “Burn the House Down” was written by AJR. It was a bonus single to their album, “The Click” initially released on the deluxe edition of the album. Not that I know anyone who buys albums.
AJR stands for Adam, Jack, and Ryan. They’re an independent music group, that started performing covers in 2005. They debuted their first album in 2013 and released the songs from their own label, AJR Productions.
They are also brothers. I’ll throw up a picture of each as we go along so you don’t get confused.
This is Adam. (Picture of Adam)
This is Jack. (Picture of Jack)
This is Ryan. (Picture of Ryan)
Now this song is just over a year old, being released in March of 2018. Also, this isn’t AJR’s first hit song, so some of you may be familiar with the name. That being said, they aren’t so famous that everyone would recognize them right off.
Their other hit songs include, “Weak”, “Turning Out”, “100 Bad Days” and “Sober Up”. This is a major factor in the popularity of the song. Once you hear one song you like, you start looking into an artist to hear more songs you’ll like. Although I do want to add that “100 Bad Days” was released after “Burn the House Down”.
What I’m trying to get at is that these guys have made great music on other occasions, and when “Burn the House Down” was released, they already had an audience. This is 13 years into their music careers, and 5 years after their debut album.
Now, unfortunately, I can’t go back in time and grab the stats from a year ago, but I can take their current stats and tell you over 7 million people listen to these guys on Spotify every month. This specific song has nearly 93 million streams in the last 15 months. That means this song has averaged roughly 6 million 200 thousand streams a month. I wanted to just assume that 89% of their fans listen to this every month, but some fans probably listen to it more than once a month.
Let’s jump into looking at the song itself though, why is it good? Let’s start with the beat. This song has a bass, a kicker, a snare, a clap, a trumpet, and a piano. Also, the tempo runs at 185, which is plenty fast to keep your heart and adrenaline pumping if you’re into it.
Music is designed to be felt with the heart, and this song has a lot of elements that sync up with your heartbeat nicely.
The song opens with a fun bass. It’s quite hard to describe, but it plays two sounds, then plays three sounds for a skipping noise. This creates the main rhythm of the song.
Each instrument in this song is really quite unique sounding, but the kick and snare follow a simple one-two beat, with every other kick playing twice. You’ll notice this mimics the rhythm of a heartbeat. It’s the beat you’re pulse will sync up with. It creates a secondary rhythm.
The clap in this song falls on the second and fourth note of each measure, so it syncs up to that heartbeat nicely, coming after each pulse.
The trumpet plays a series of rising notes to create the main melody to the song.
Also around the middle of the song, it cuts to a nice piano melody. Played in high notes, with fairly emotional lyrics sung over it.
The way I described this you’re probably thinking that the instruments all fall over each other and sound like a total mess, which they would if they all played simultaneously. This song actually constantly cuts new instruments in and out though. The beat changes every few seconds, and it does a great job of keeping the song from being overly repetitive. I’ll play it for you in chunks as we look at the lyrics, and again at the end.
Our lyrics are sung by Jack, and they come right out the gate singing our first verse.
This verse along is interesting in its rhyme scheme, but more so in repetition. Our first and last lines of this verse are exactly the same, "Used to keep it cool” which to me adds emphasis that we are about to hear a song about someone done keeping their cool.
You can also tell our singer has had passive feelings towards world events in the past with the lines, “Watch it on the news whatcha gonna do?” The artist, Jack, also says that he was more than anything worried about staying positive. That’s why he was all about the bounce in his step. This flows into our next verse which is important.
Our second verse has an interesting rhyme scheme with an A A B C C B A A. Basically this verse could be read forward and backward and keep the same rhyme scheme. Not just the rhymes though, the verse itself would still have a similar meaning if you read it bottom to top instead of top to bottom. I can’t tell if it’s intentional but either way, it’s cool.
The verse itself has a different first and last line, which shows us change from the singer's first verse, where he repeats. He’s literally changing his format.
Jack has specifically said that on this verse he never wanted to touch political topics because he was worried it would alienate some of his audience, and he’d lose popularity. This is what he means by keeping it light and staying out of the fight. However, it’s posed as a question because he’s not sure that’s really the right thing to do. This brings us to our chorus.
We don’t have much in rhymes here, but the repetition creates a fun hook that we can all sing along to. I actually made that skate edit specifically to go with the chorus of this song.
These lyrics are interesting because they talk about going up and up, which likens to their rising popularity, but then Jack mentions he’s been up and down that road as if to tell us he’s been there and can leave it behind now.
The name of this song, and most repeated line, We gon’ burn this whole house down, it’s a nice metaphor. An open invitation to fight against the government and the politics you disagree with. To literally rebuild the system from scratch.
As far as standing in line, it’s a metaphor for how as people we follow unknowingly without ever truly creating our own thoughts, and when we reach the front of our line we just get served with lies. So we go into our next verse.
Yeah, used to let it
Walk into the
Gawking at the tricks up your
Too good to be truth-
Full, I’m in a room
Full of entertainers and
Used to let it
(Woah, oh no)
Here Jack tells us about how he used to just let it go. It didn’t matter enough. Not as much as whatever else was going on, specifically for this verse, his shows. It reconnects us to the idea that he doesn’t want to lose popularity by speaking his mind.
He tells us how he would gawk at the tricks up their sleeves, comparing them to magicians, who give us a show made of misdirection. He even calls the room of thieves, as though they use their misdirection for nothing but their personal gain. This brings us back to our chorus, which I’m going to skip since we’ve already heard it once.
Next, we get our bridge,
In the bridge, we can clearly see Jack question if he should remain apathetic, or if he should speak his mind. Clearly making the decision that speaking his mind is more important than remaining passive. It also tells us that in speaking your mind you’ll find new popularity as he marches with strangers from Twitter to get stuff done.
Why Twitter? I don’t know. It’s a super political platform though. Then the song finished up with one last chorus.
I love how this song is about disagreeing with politics while remaining fairly indifferent as to how the artist actually feels. It actually allowed Jack to speak some of his opinions and say he's mad, but it allows you and me as listeners to plug into our own problems as to why we are mad at politics.
At the same time, you can mindlessly bounce around to how upbeat this song is.
I’m not here to debate politics, I’m here to talk about music, so I’ll leave my opinions out of it. I’d appreciate if you left a like, subscribed, and maybe even commented your thoughts on the song.
Also, we don’t make any money from the ads you might or might not see. That money goes directly to the artist so they can make more music. We make our money by selling shirts, hats, and skateboards. You can get one form your local skate shop, or directly from us on DJSkate.com.